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Friday Night Dinner actor Paul Ritter dies aged 54

Tributes paid to performer who played role of Martin Goodman in the Channel 4 sitcom as well as appearing in Chernobyl and Harry Potter

The actor Paul Ritter has died at the age of 54, his agent has said. 

He had appeared in a number of TV shows and films including Harry Potter, Chernobyl, Vera, Friday Night Dinner and James Bond. 

Mr Ritter's agent said: "It is with great sadness we can confirm that Paul Ritter passed away last night.

"He died peacefully at home with his wife Polly and sons Frank and Noah by his side. He was 54 and had been suffering from a brain tumour.

"Paul was an exceptionally talented actor playing an enormous variety of roles on stage and screen with extraordinary skill. He was fiercely intelligent, kind and very funny. We will miss him greatly."

Robert Popper, a colleague of Mr Ritter on Channel 4's Friday Night Dinner said: "Devastated at this terribly sad news.

"Paul was a lovely, wonderful human being. Kind, funny, super caring and the greatest actor I ever worked with."

Fellow actor Stephen Mangan wrote of Mr Ritter: "Trying to find a way to talk about Paul Ritter and struggling. My friend since we were students together.

"So much talent and it shone from him even as a teenager.

"I was so lucky to know him and lucky too to work with him many times over the years. Wonderful man. RIP."

The actor was best known for his role as family patriarch Martin Goodman in Channel 4's Friday Night Dinner, in which he starred alongside Tamsin Greig and Simon Bird.

He also played Anatoly Dyatlov in the acclaimed drama Chernobyl and Eldred Worple in Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince.

Other notable roles were as Guy Haines in James Bond film Quantum Of Solace, in period drama Belgravia, as Billy Cartwright in Vera and Sir John Seymour in Wolf Hall.

Born in 1966, Ritter made his TV debut in an episode of The Bill in 1992 and became an acclaimed stage actor, working with the National Theatre in The Royal Hunt Of The Sun, All My Sons, Coram Boy, The Hot-House, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and as John Major in The Audience opposite Dame Helen Mirren as the Queen.

He also worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and played Pistol in the 2012 mini-series The Hollow Crown.

Ritter was nominated for a Tony Award and an Olivier for his role as Reg in the Old Vic's revival of The Norman Conquests.

Hugh Adams, of charity Brain Tumour Research, said: "Our deepest condolences go to Paul's family and friends following the devastating news that he has died from this terrible disease.

"Approximately 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour and unlike most other cancers, incidences of and deaths from brain tumours are rising.

"Just 12% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers.

"We are proud to be building a network of experts in sustainable research at dedicated centres of excellence whilst influencing the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more nationally, getting us closer to finding a cure."

Paul Ritter's career, in pictures
Friday Night Dinner, top left to right: Martin (Paul Ritter) and Jackie (Tamsin Greig) bottom left to right: Adam (Simon Bird) and Jonny (Tom Rosenthal)
Friday Night Dinner, top left to right: Martin (Paul Ritter) and Jackie (Tamsin Greig) bottom left to right: Adam (Simon Bird) and Jonny (Tom Rosenthal) Credit: Mark Johnson
Paul Ritter alongside Michela Meazza in Really Old, Like Forty Five at the Cottesloe Theatre (now known as the Dorfman Theatre) in the Southbank
Paul Ritter alongside Michela Meazza in Really Old, Like Forty Five at the Cottesloe Theatre (now known as the Dorfman Theatre) in the Southbank Credit: Alaistair Muir
Paul Ritter in Channel 4's No Offence
Paul Ritter in Channel 4's No Offence Credit: Phil Fisk
Actors lead tributes to 'very finest of actors and a gentleman'

Actors have paid tribute to the star, best known for his role as eccentric father Martin Goodman in Channel 4's Friday Night Dinner.

Vera star Brenda Blethyn wrote that Mr Ritter was "the very finest of actors and a gentleman".

"He will be so sorely missed and I send my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. What very sad news," she tweeted.

Actor Rob Delaney wrote of Mr Ritter's performance as Anatoly Dyatlov.

"Knocked it out of the park in Chernobyl," he tweeted.

"Watching it I consciously thought, 'Oh, we have a new movie star.'

"Between that & how funny he was in Friday Night Dinner... just unreal talent."

Mark Gatiss wrote of Ritter: "What an actor. What a presence. So shocked and saddened by this awful news."

Fellow actor Russell Tovey said Mr Ritter was "one of the nicest and best actors you'll ever meet.

"I had the absolute pleasure of a first play at 19 with him, he called me a 'Plonker' when I left him hanging on stage once at a missed entrance cue - I've never forgotten it and never did it again - RIP mate x"

Actor Eddie Marsan recalled watching Mr Ritter on the stage.

"Just out of drama school I saw a production of 3 Sisters. A young actor playing Tuzenbach, did the monologue before the duel. I'd heard it every week at DS (drama school).

"But when he did it, I forgot I'd heard it before. He went on to be one of our greatest actors."

Bridgerton actress Nicola Coughlan wrote: "So, so sad to hear this. I was such a fan of Paul Ritter he was absolutely magic."

Actor Rob Delaney also paid tribute, and said: "Knocked it out of the park in Chernobyl. Watching it I consciously thought, 'Oh, we have a new movie star,"' Delaney wrote on Twitter.

"Between that and how funny he was in Friday Night Dinner... just unreal talent. Rest in peace, Paul Ritter."

Actor Will Mellor said Mr Ritter was a "fantastic actor".

"I'm so shocked to hear about Paul Ritter! I can't believe it!," he wrote on Twitter. "Great man and fantastic actor, My heart goes out to his family, Such a sad day. RIP Paul."

He signed off his tweet with the hashtag "heartbreaking".

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